How To Buy a Home: Strategies for a Changing Market

Buyers need new strategies to help them accomplish their goal of homeownership. You can make your own buying opportunity.

Buyers need new strategies to help them accomplish their goal of homeownership. The market has changed. While I don’t believe it’s a “Buyer’s Market,” as yet, certainly the prices have leveled off.

Buyers may still be stymied by intransigent Sellers and Realtors who are living in the past and pushing Buyer’s offers higher, higher, higher.

My advice to Buyers: prepare for War. First, get all your ducks in a row. Get prequalified, have your mortgage person available and ready to act quickly to send out a customized prequalification letter with each offer you make. If you make an offer on a Saturday afternoon at 4p.m., that letter should be faxed to the Seller or their agent within two hours. It’s complete nonsense to wait until Monday.

If you do this, you set yourself above the crowd. You also set a tone of seriousness in the negotiations. You get the high ground. That makes it easier for you to set the price you want to pay (not what the Seller or their Realtor wants to get). It also prepares you for hard bargaining. You’re hot, you’re ready to buy and close. This preparation raises your confidence level to Herculean strength.

Buyers can seek out opportunities. Identify a house that has been on the market for a while. The house might be on MLS or it might be a local FSBO (For Sale By Owner) that you have noticed in your travels the past three months.

A house that isn’t sold quickly is most likely not priced correctly. Take your Herculean confidence, set your price and make your offer. Keep it simple.

You can make your own buying opportunity this way. It’s so easy. Don’t fall in love with the house. Fall in love with the numbers. Put your offer out, give the Seller just enough time to consider it. If the Seller doesn’t move (counter offer or accept) you move on.

Find another house. Repeat. Buy your first home. Tell tales of your Herculean adventures over cool lemonades and hot steaks on your back patio years from now.

I live on Long Island. There are several FSBO’s in my immediate neighborhood—within two blocks in either direction. All of them have been “on the market” for a minimum of two months, probably longer (I’ve lost count).

These folks seem to think the way to sell a home is to just put up a cheesy red “For Sale” sign with a phone number scratched in on the bottom in Scripto black. Yah. Right.

We checked on the price of one. Ridiculous. Absurd. Ludicrous. And the guy was in the habit of running two open houses every weekend for about six weeks. He would make sure there were no cars parked out front and he’d spend two hours Friday afternoon with his visor down, and his weed-whacker going at full throttle trimming to perfection the edges of the lawn. Yah. That’s going to sell a house. Right.

If I show up at the farmer’s market with a batch of potatoes and the going price is 20 cents a pound, why on earth would I price it at 35 cents a pound? What, I think I’m going to sell my potaters by cleaning and polishing and trimming off the nasty bits? I Don’t Think SO!

I’ve been doing mortgages for seventeen years, and looked at FSBO’s for three years before that as I shopped for my first home. The single common denominator with ALL FSBO’s: highest price, largest greed factor, Most Cluelessness, and stubborn refusal to pay a professional to SELL the home.

Homes don’t sell themselves: salespeople do it. Their incentive? Profit, plain and simple.

These homes are prime opportunities for Buyers. Show up, make your offer and either buy your first home or walk away and go down the block to the next FSBO.